This National Runaway Prevention Month, Show There’s More to Youth than ‘Meets the Eye’

A young woman wearing a hoodie stands against a wall

National Runaway Prevention Month is back, which means it’s time to raise awareness about runaway and homeless youth and share ideas for keeping young people safe and stably housed. This year, the National Runaway Safeline—which spearheads the month-long event—also wants to get the word out that homeless youth are so much more than their housing status.

To honor the 2015 theme of “More Than Meets the Eye,” we’re shedding light on the complex factors that often go hand-in-hand with youth homelessness. These include:

  • Time in the foster care system. By the time they are in their mid-twenties, more than one-third of youth who age out of foster care will have been homeless at least once, according to a long-term study by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Using this study as a guide, the research organization shares predictors of youth homelessness and suggestions to reduce its likelihood.
  • Being pregnant or parenting. Young parents are at risk of homelessness due to stigma and family rejection, while youth who are already homeless are more likely to become pregnant compared to their housed peers. An online issue brief published by the National Network for Youth offers recommendations for reducing housing stress for young parents (PDF, 756KB).
  • Trauma. Some homeless youth face traumatic events before they leave home and are re-traumatized while living on the street. This guide from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network helps shelter workers understand complex trauma among homeless children and families (PDF, 195KB), and how they can help rebuild a sense of safety and stability.

Use these resources to inform your own work with families and youth, or to educate others in your community about the issue. You can also learn how to build year-long attention around National Runaway Prevention Month or read about last year’s commemoration.

Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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